Remarks by Chargé d'Affaires Shane Dixon At the National Forum on Access to Information
As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning and welcome,
It’s an honor to stand before you today at Somalia’s first ever National Forum on Access to Information and to mark International Day for Universal Access to Information. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Mr. Omar Faruk of the National Union of Somali Journalists and all collaborators for organizing this forum.
Access to information is a pillar upon which transparent, accountable, and inclusive societies are built. It empowers citizens, enabling them to engage actively in democratic processes, make informed decisions, and advocate for their rights. It is this access that helps combat corruption, foster economic growth, and ultimately, pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future.
In a nation that has faced its share of challenges, the significance of fostering a free and professional press environment cannot be overstated. It’s inspiring to see Somalia’s transformative journey as it recaptures its future from those that fear positive change, progress, and democracy. Initiatives like today’s forum are pivotal in shaping a prosperous society.
The United States is proud to support this initiative led by the National Union of Somali Journalists. We value media freedom as a fundamental component of democratic governance. Journalists play an indispensable role in this endeavor, and they must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of imprisonment, repression, or any form of intimidation.
Article 18 of Somalia’s provisional constitution guarantees freedom of expression, encompassing speech, media, and artistic creativity, promoting information sharing and opinions. We commend measures in place aimed at fostering a more open and accountable society in Somalia and stress the importance of upholding these principles even when it appears difficult. Resolve to respect democratic norms and institutions even when it’s not immediately convenient pays dividends over the long term in the form of public trust and, ultimately, broad-based prosperity.
The challenges are many, but the will of the Somali people and the commitment of partners here today are a testament to the possibilities that lie ahead. The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with you and is committed to supporting the people of Somalia in their pursuit of peace, security, and prosperity.
Thank you, and I look forward to the fruitful discussions and collaborations that will stem from this forum, driving progress and hope for Somalia’s future.